Breaking News – Former Premier League star reveals two team-mates were gay

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A former Premier League defender has claimed he played alongside two gay team-mates in England, with one potentially being a ‘genuinely big name’.Carl Hoefkens, the former West Bromwich Albion and Stoke City right back, says the players’ sexuality was ‘not hidden’ in the dressing room – although the men in question remain anonymous at their own request.Justin Fashanu, who committed suicide in 1998, was the last active player in England to come out as gay – in 1990.Hoefkens played in England for four years, leaving in 2009, and claims one team-mate would arrive at the club’s training ground but his boyfriend but asked his colleagues to ‘keep quiet to the outside world’.’I played alongside three gay footballers, including one who was a genuinely big name,’ Hoefkens, 39, told Belgian newspaper De Zondag.’They did not hide who they were in the dressing-room. One was at Club Brugge, and the other two were in England. I won’t name names as I respect their requests.’One of them would even arrive at training with his boyfriend. They asked us to keep quiet to the outside world, but don’t ask me why.’Nottingham Forest and Norwich City striker Justin Fashanu remains the highest profile star to reveal he was gay in England, but he suffered years of abuse and eventually killed himself in 1998, aged 37.Former Germany and Aston Villa midfielder Thomas Hitzlsperger came out in 2014, becoming the first Premier League player to reveal he was homosexual.Hitzlsperger said he had recently accepted that he ‘preferred men’ four months after announcing his retirement from playing.Football Association chairman Greg Clarke encouraged homosexual players to come out in January of this year but recently admitted he had failed in his attempts to make contact with any gay professionals.’I find it strange that homosexuality is still a taboo in football. It is a pity,’ Hoefkens, who once posed for a gay magazine, added.’I hope that a top player will one day stand up and announce: “I’m gay – so what?” Then the taboo will finally disappear.’If I were gay I would do it for certain. This is something that is generally accepted in society after all.’Last week, former NBA star John Amaechi claimed FA chairman Clarke had told him the Government would never force the FA to act on homophobia because ‘we have all the power and FIFA would step in and call it government interference’.Clarke contacted Amaechi to say he wanted to talk about persuading a gay footballer to come out – something the FA boss had warned gay players not to consider at a Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee hearing last October.Amaechi said when he told Clarke he thought the Government would eventually intervene if gay people in football did not feel secure in their workplaces, the former Leicester director and Football League chairman said, ‘They won’t do a f**king thing’.A spokesman for the FA said: ‘Homophobia in football is an important subject and one that the chairman feels passionately about. He had a private meeting with John Amaechi in March to discuss potential ways how he and The FA can work most effectively in the field of LGBT inclusion.’They had a strong, healthy and robust debate and the chairman valued John’s personal insight and suggestions.’

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